Murray in great position ahead of French Open and seeks Lendl reunion
Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | May 17, 2016
Andy Murray is the top topic of tennis of late, after he convincingly beat nemesis and world number one Novak Djokovic in the Internazionali D’Italia (Rome Masters) in the last big tournament before the 2016 French Open.
On top of that, the Scotsman has sparked talk of there being a reunion with former coach Ivan Lendl, who oversaw the former winning the US Open, Wimbledon and Olympic Gold Medal during their two-year partnership.
Murray, 4/1 with Coral for French Open glory, is back up to number two in the ATP world rankings, after temporarily slipping to third behind Roger Federer, meaning he will likely get a favourable draw and route to the final at Roland Garros.
Scot set for straightforward draw
That is, of course, if King of Clay and back-in-form Rafael Nadal is placed in the top half with Djokovic and potentially Federer too, as what happened at the recent Rome Masters due to their seedings.
So far this clay season, Murray, who turned 29 on May 15th, has highly impressed, and has certainly peaked at the right time.
His preparation arguably started late last year in the Davis Cup final, when he helped Great Britain beat Belgium to the title on this surface.
Murray has played three tournaments on clay since – all Masters events (Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome) – and has gone from losing in the semis and then final, to lifting the title.
In doing so, as well as Djokovic, he has beaten the likes of top stars Nadal, Tomas Berdych, Milos Raonic, David Goffin and Gilles Simon all in straight sets – losing only to the former duo in that run.
Djok, Rafa and Fed out of sorts
His main challengers have looked out of sorts in recent weeks too, with former French Open champions Stan Wawrinka, Nadal and Federer, on top of Career Grand Slam-chasing Djokovic, showing signs weakness.
All-time great Federer has not managed to get past the quarters in his two clay court appearances, going down to old foe Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and in-form Dominic Thiem.
Nadal, on the other hand, has seemingly peaked too soon, after his fantastic run of 13 matches on clay undefeated, picking up the Monte Carlo Masters and Barcelona Open in the process. He has since been defeated by Murray and Djokovic in straight sets in the semis and quarters respectively.
As for Djokovic, has reaching all these finals and playing so many matches finally taken its toll? The Serb may have picked up the Madrid Masters title, but didn’t have it all his way in the final.
While Djokovic crashed out to surprise victor Jiri Vesely in the last 32 at Monte Carlo, and only scraped past Nadal and Kei Nishikori in Rome, before being taken apart by the Scot.
Murray to link up with Lendl again?
Murray’s recent split from coach Amelie Mauresmo has certainly not affected his performances, and he has stated that he is in no rush to appoint another high-profile name to his team.
For the French Open at least, the British number one will work under former English player Jamie Delgado, but has hinted he hopes to reunite with Lendl.
“I’d love to work with Ivan [again] but the time was the issue,” Murray said. “If it can work then I’d love to do it, but it has to work for both of us. People who have been number one in the world know the amount of time it takes to make an impact.
“To be fair to Boris Becker, he is there with Novak Djokovic a lot. He has dedicated a lot of time to it. It’s the travel that’s normally the issue. I’m willing to make compromises where I train and stuff. It was good in Miami because Ivan’s close to there.
“It’s unlikely something will happen before the French but the grass is three weeks away so there’s time. Maybe I will try to speak to a couple of people next week if the team have some agreement.”
Other former Grand Slam champions and greats of the game such as Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, Lindsay Davenport have also been touted to guide Murray, as has GB captain, fellow Scot and former coach Leon Smith.
But whatever the decision, Murray should certainly carry on what he’s doing and further capitalise on his peers’ drop in form, if he wants to claim a third Grand Slam and do what even Djokovic has failed to do – win the French Open.
For more tennis content, check out our dedicated archive ahead of the 2016 French Open.